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Kodao Asks: Sino si Boni Ilagan?

Pinarangalan si Bonifacio Ilagan ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas noong Nobyembre a-20 ng Gawad Plaridel para sa kanyang natatangi at mahalagang ambag sa makabayang sining sa teatro, telebisyon, pelikula at panulat sa mahabang panahon.

Dumalo ang marami sa mga pinagkakapitaganang mga kapwa artista sa parangal at ito ang kanilang nasabi hinggil kay Boni. (Bidyo ni Maricon Montajes/Kodao)

University of the Philippines unveils new subject on the Marcos dictatorship to counter historical revisionism

The subject was offered 33 years after the downfall of Marcos

By Karlo Mongaya

A new General Education (GE) subject that will tackle the dark years of military rule in the Philippines during the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship will be taught at the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines (UP), the country’s premier state university.

Philippines Studies 21 (PS 21) tackles the historical experience of repression and resistance under Martial Law as a way of countering attempts by political allies of the late dictator Marcos, including the incumbent Rodrigo Duterte government, to whitewash the crimes, corruption, and rights abuses under the martial law regime.

The new subject will focus on the language, culture, and literature from the Martial Law era. The course title PS 21 was taken from the date of the declaration of Martial Law on September 21, 1972. Then President Ferdinand Marcos imposed dictatorial rule for 14 years until his overthrow by a popular uprising at EDSA in 1986.

The new subject has stirred controversy as the Marcoses complained that it may be “one-sided” against their family while the armed forces raised the alarm that it would be used as a recruitment tool for “communist rebels”.

Instituting PS 21

PS 21 has been in the works since 2014 when it was first proposed by Philippine Studies professors at the UP Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature (DFPP).

But efforts to institutionalize the subject gained renewed impetus late in 2018 when the issue of UP President Danilo Concepcion dancing with Senator Imee Marcos, the eldest daughter of the dead dictator, at a function in the university was reported by the media.

The UP Diliman University Council issued a statement calling for stronger efforts to educate the public on the horrors brought about by the Marcos dictatorship, including the creation of additional subjects in the university.

After passing several steps in the rigorous academic process for approving subjects, PS 21 finally made it through the UP Diliman University Council last September 2019. The proposed syllabus of PS 21 has been uploaded online.

Asked by media about the subject, Senator Imee Marcos appealed that her family’s side of the story be included in the course. The PS 21 proponents assured her that the late dictator’s speeches and writings legitimizing military rule are indeed part of the subject.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who served as counsel for the Marcoses in their cases on their ill-gotten wealth, said the subject is a good idea: “Every student should know and learn any subject that concerns governance.”

Contentious history

The Martial Law era remains a contentious topic in the Philippines today. On the one hand, many Filipinos continue to seek justice for those whose rights were violated — the tens of thousands who were imprisoned, tortured, killed, disappeared — by the Marcos regime.

Marcos’ debt-driven development programs and massive corruption favoring his family and cronies have been cited even by mainstream economists for the many ills facing Philippine society today.

On the other hand, human rights activists said that the failure of post-Marcos administrations to convict the dictator’s family and his cronies has allowed the Marcoses to return to power. The dictator’s son and namesake Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. almost won the vice-presidency in the 2016 elections. His sister Imee Marcos currently occupies a seat in the senate.

President Duterte, who has openly expressed admiration for Marcos, and his officials have been blunt in calling on the public to “move on” from the horrors of dictatorial rule while his officials tout those years as the “Golden Age” of Philippine history.

A propaganda video released by the state-managed Philippine News Agency (PNA) against activist organizations as part of the government’s counter-insurgency campaign, for example, praises the Marcos era as the highest point of the country’s economy.

Duterte moreover allowed the burial of the body of the dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) on November 18, 2016 sparking indignation and nationwide protests.

Students listen as proponents explain the rationale and contents of the PS 21 subject during its launching held in UP last September 18, 2019. Photo by author

Target of red-tagging

Ironically, the subject that tackles abuses of the dictatorship is itself now subjected to Marcos era-style repression. PS 21 is yet to be taught but the new subject is already in the cross-hairs of the Duterte government and its armed forces.

The UP Rises Against Tyranny and Dictatorship (UPRISE) network recently condemned the Philippine military for falsely red-tagging the new subject as a recruitment tool for “communist rebels” in a lecture at the Isabela State University Cauayan campus.

Target of red-tagging

Ironically, the subject that tackles abuses of the dictatorship is itself now subjected to Marcos era-style repression. PS 21 is yet to be taught but the new subject is already in the cross-hairs of the Duterte government and its armed forces.

The UP Rises Against Tyranny and Dictatorship (UPRISE) network recently condemned the Philippine military for falsely red-tagging the new subject as a recruitment tool for “communist rebels” in a lecture at the Isabela State University Cauayan campus.

UPRISE said that red-tagging is in line with President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 mandating a “whole-of-nation” approach that synchronizes the activities of all civilian agencies as part of the military’s counter-insurgency efforts:

This presentation was made in line with Executive Order no. 70, fronted as a talk on ensuring student safety and security, but is in essence a massive smear campaign against nationalist and critical education espoused by schools and legal organizations.

Senator Bato dela Rosa, who as former police chief was the lead executor of Duterte’s “War on Drugs”, is leading a crusade to “save students” against “communist infiltration” in schools and universities.

His Senate Committee Report no.10 proposes school administrators clampdown on “radicalization” thru increased police and military presence in campuses, regular review of academic programs, monitoring of school events, up to the filing of charges against professors.

Students, faculty, and employees hold protests last August 20, 2019 at the historic Palma Hall of the University of the Philippines Diliman against the threat of military and police intrusions on campus. Photo by author.

Conscientization amidst repression

Last October 31, 56 activists in Bacolod City, Negros and 2 in Manila City were arrested in raids conducted by Duterte’s security forces on the offices of legal people’s organizations and homes of activists in Negros and the national capital.

This was followed by an early morning November 5 raid on the office of activist group Bayan in Tondo, Manila and threats of state reprisals on legal offices of human rights defenders and progressives.

The crackdown on legal activists who have been the most vocal critics of the Duterte administration has not stopped, with various humanitarian and religious groups included in the military’s list of “communist terrorist groups”.

As the current administration intensifies the constriction of democratic spaces in the country, the new PS 21 subject hopes to be a platform for the “conscientization” of a new generation of Filipino youth on the importance of human rights, social justice and the continuing struggle for genuine freedom and democracy.

Concerned faculty in other UP campuses outside Diliman are endeavoring to institute the same subject in their respective regions. The proponents hope that the same efforts will be pushed in other schools and universities in the country. #

Disclosure: The author teaches Philippine Studies at the UP Diliman Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature.

(This article was first published by Global Voices, an international and multilingual community of bloggers, journalists, translators, academics, and human rights activists. It is republished by Kodao as part of a content sharing agreement.)

Groups condemn attack on Kule

Media groups condemned the reported attack on Philippine Collegian by suspected government intelligence operatives late Saturday night, November 16.

The Union of Journalists of the Philippines-UP (UJP-UP) and the People’s Alternative Media Network (Altermidya) said the incident is an act of intimidation against the official student publication of the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

In an alert, the Philippine Collegian reported that a certain Wilfredo Manapat forcibly entered their office at around 9:30 in the evening at the Sampaguita Residence Hall.

When confronted by Collegian staff members, Manapat reportedly said he was there to “do an inspection as part of surveillance.”

Two of Manapat’s companions stood outside the building, the Collegian said.

The Collegian staff immediately called up UP-Diliman chancellor Michael Tan who apparently ordered the dispatch of campus police officers to arrest the trespasser.

Manapat was subsequently brought to the UP-Diliman police station and, when pressed, claimed he was merely looking for his colleagues. 

“In light of the recent attacks against the press, we stand with the Philippine Collegian and denounce this blatant intimidation against student publications,” UJP UP-Diliman, an association of mass communications students, said in a statement.

“This is a clear attempt of state oppressors to unnerve media entities that maintain a line of reportage reflective of the real social-political situation of the public,” the group added.

Altermidya for its part said it views the incident as a brazen attack on Philippine Collegian and the campus press.

The incident came a day after Interior and Local Government secretary Eduardo Año warned that the National Youth Camp being held in UP might be used by “communist front groups” to agitate and recruit students.

“We warn Secretary Año, who himself is implicated in the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos, against further labeling student organizations as communist fronts and therefore treated as targets by state security forces. Red-tagging always precedes grave human rights violations as we have seen in the recent raids and arrests of activists,” Altermidya said.

Altermidya pointed out that the Saturday’s incident was not the first time this year that members of the campus press have been red-tagged and subjected to surveillance and harassment by state security forces.

In August 2019, police visited the office of The Pillar of University of Eastern Philippines and interrogated its editor-in-chief.

In Bicol, police officers also red-tagged campus journalists from Ateneo de Naga University and Baao Community College, who were also officers of the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines. 

“We stand in solidarity with the campus press, and call on our colleagues in the media and concerned citizens to denounce the State’s attempts to silence critics,” Altermidya said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Hospital of Our Hope, System of Our Despair

by Gene Nisperos, MD

The Philippine General Hospital is the face of our perpetually neglected public healthcare system. As the biggest tertiary training hospital in the country, it provides specialized and very specialized services and training. It is also the end referral hospital of other public hospitals. Pero ito din ang Ospital ng Bayan na sadyang pinabayaan.

The ever-increasing number of patients in PGH reflects the country’s worsening social conditions. The poor’s limited access to basic services, aggravated by their absent economic power and the prohibitive costs of healthcare, all lead them to this single health institution.

Thus, we need to take a close, hard look at the state of PGH and its patients.

A casual stroll from the PGH Out-Patient Department (OPD) to the wards can break your heart.

Patients. Families. All are trying their best to get a measure of the health services they need, never mind deserve. Some are eating their baon along the sidewalk. Others are desperately trying to make their patients more comfortable under the sweltering heat and crowd. Many have been waiting in line since 3-4am just to get in.

A walk through the Emergency Room (ER) can break your spirit.

Everywhere, quietly, patients find small consolation in cold metal beds, in stretchers, in wheelchairs, or even in monobloc chairs. They fill up any unpeopled space that they can find and comfort is a luxury that they will readily forego if only to get seen and treated.

And all of them want to be seen, need to be seen. Many have travelled long distances hoping to be treated for their various infirmities. But the hospital is always shorthanded. The 4000-strong health personnel are almost always never enough for the deluge of patients that come daily.

The ER, currently under renovation, only has a 25-bed capacity. But its daily census is easily north of 150. In the last three years, PGH’s patient census has steadily increased from 586,000 to 647,000 per year.

There are patients who should be in the intensive care unit (ICU) but are still in the wards. There are patients who should be in the wards but are still in the ER. There are patients in “ectopic beds”, or beds in departments other than that where the patient should be confined in.

There is just not enough beds or space. There is just not enough health personnel.

Yes, even the best that PGH can provide remains too little. And everyone can do with much more.

Yet in spite of these, for 2020, Congress deemed it fit to cut the PGH budget rather than increase it. Apparently, for our honourable legislators, the less than P3 billion per year allocation is enough and there are more pressing matters to fund, like the P100 million pork barrel they will each get.

To provide its patients with the barest minimum, PGH needs about P5 billion per year. So why give the hospital much less than what it needs to operate?

Limited funds nga daw kasi.

Currently, around two-thirds of PGH’s budget goes to pay for its personnel, whose numbers cannot match those of the patients, even with medical and health sciences students taking up the cudgels.

Because of insufficient budget, the hospital cannot hire the additional health human resources it needs. It cannot even regularize the contractual employees it has. Worse, it is looking to further subcontract the work being done by institutional/utility workers, the “manongs” who brings patients around the hospital for their labs, x-rays, and what not.

About 25% of PGH’s budget goes to its operations, which directly benefit its patients. Even then, supplies and meds are often lacking so patients need to buy these outside.

Some laboratory exams are unavailable so these have to be done outside as well. Basic equipment, like respirators, have also been subcontracted to private firms and their use have to be paid for by patients.

All of these amount to out-of-pocket expenses that are catastrophic for an already impoverished patient.

To be fair, the PGH Administration exerts effort to augment the hospital’s funds. Donations from private individuals and/or corporations help stretch the meager resources. But at the end of the day, patients and health personnel alike, including students, shell out money to cover for what the hospital lacks.

Either that or they become mute witnesses to the consequences of unmet health needs: morbidity if not death.

PGH supporters calling for a higher budget for the country’s most important teaching hospital.

When government refuses to give enough funds, everyone suffers. Because in PGH, the need will always be much greater than what can be given. Sadly, this is being done to almost all public hospitals: they get less than half of the budget they need but are expected to operate fully, with VERY LITTLE support.

When health officials grow tired of asking enough to provide for what patients deserve, what is given is not even enough to provide for what patients need. When health officials console themselves by asking just enough to provide for what patients need, what is given is barely enough, so that patients expect even less.

This is government policy and it must be changed. THIS is the rotten system that refuses to see healthcare as a public good.

It is therefore right and fair to demand for a bigger budget for health and for PGH.

Every year, PGH should get P10 billion to give its patients the care THEY DESERVE. The hospital should not have to rely on the kind heart of philanthropists or on corporate social responsibility just to keep itself financially afloat. The hospital should NOT EXACT any more from the pockets of its patients and its staff.

The amount also enables PGH to hire and regularize enough hospital personnel to meet the ever-increasing demands of healthcare. The money affords the hospital enough to provide essential supplies and medicine, and ensures that the laboratory and diagnostic equipment are working.

If PGH is given the budget that it deserves, then it can fulfill its most important role: enable the poor and destitute to exercise, and maybe even experience, their right to health. #

Sektor ng kabataan, ginunita at nagprotesta sa ika-47 taong komemorasyon ng Martial Law

Libong katabaan, estudyante at iba’t ibang organisasyon ang nagtipon at nagmartsa mula Morayta hanggang Luneta upang gunitain ang ika-47 taong komemorasyon ng Martial Law sa panahon ni Marcos at magprotesta laban sa de facto Martial Law ng admistrasyong Duterte.

Kinundena nila ang napakaraming kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao, ang harasment, red-tagging sa mga student-lider, aktibista at organisasyon na nagpapahayag ng kritisismo sa kasalukuyang administrasyon. (Video by Maricon Montajes)

UP Regent: Rapist and murderer Sanchez does not deserve release

An official of the University of the Philippines (UP) opposed the possible early release of convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez who, earlier announcements said, may be eligible for parole next month.

A statement posted by the office of UP Student Regent John Isaac Punzalan said it condemns plans for Sanchez’s early release from prison.

“We are one with the families of the victims, the rest of the UP community, and the people in demanding full justice for Eileen and Allan and not allowing the release of the rapist and murderer Sanchez. He does not deserve the early release as evident in the violations he committed inside the prison,” the statement reads.

The former Calauan, Laguna mayor was convicted in 1995 for the abduction, rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and the torture and murder of her boyfriend Allan Gomez, both UP Los Baños students as well as the earlier murder of father and son Nelson and Rickson Peñalosa in 1996.

Sanchez was sentenced with a total of nine counts of reclusion perpetua, which is equivalent to up to 40 years in prison each.

He has only served 25 years.

Sanchez’s remaining time in prison may be “recomputed” after displaying “good conduct,” an earlier government announcement said.

But the UP official said Sanchez was found to be in possession of P1.5 million worth of shabu and reported to have violated other prison regulations such as keeping a flat screen television set and an airconditioning unit while in jail.

Public outcry against Sanchez’s possible early release heightened after Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that his former client’s inclusion among the roughly 11,000 inmates to benefit from the 2013 Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law and a Supreme Court ruling that made the law retroactive is “automatic.”

Senator Ronald dela Rosa also invited widespread opposition to the planned move when he said that Sanchez “deserves a second chance.”

Seemingly reacting to the outcry, Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon, however, said Thursday that Sanchez’s early release is not yet a done deal.

The UP Student Regent’s office said Sanchez’s planned early release is proof that the justice system in the country is “rotting as ever, only seeking to side with the oppressors and those in power.”

“They’re criminalizing human rights advocates and activists but they’re letting rapists, murderers, and plunderers walk free,” the Regent’s statement says. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

UP students, nagprotesta kontra suspensyon ng mga patnugot ng Rebel Kule

Nagsagawa ng isang kilos-protesta ang mga mag-aaral ng Universidad ng Pilipinas sa Diliman noong Hunyo 26 sa Quezon Hall kontra sa ipinataw na suspensyon sa mga patnugot ng Rebel Collegian.

Ayon sa mga estudyante, hindi katanggap-tanggap ang desisyon na iginawad ng University Council Executive Committee (EC) na suspensyon sa pitong mamamahayag pang-kampus.

Nauna nang ipinawalang-sala ang mga patnugot ng Student Disciplinary Council subalit binaligtad ito ng EC noong Hunyo 20.

Kinasuhan ang pitong patnugot ng fraud, disobedience and stealing nang sinasabing admin-installed editor in chief ng Philippine Collegian na si Jayson Edward San Juan matapos hindi i-turnover ang social media account ng Collegian, bagay na iginiit ng Rebel Kule na hindi ito pagmamay-ari kailanman ng publikasyon. (Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

The UP ‘Rebel Kule’ case: Flatlining free expression

Altermidya Network, the broad alliance of alternative media and community journalists groups in the Philippines, denounces the patently unreasonable manner in which the University of the Philippines Diliman’s Executive Committee (EC) ordered the suspension of the editorial board of the “Rebel Kule.”

The EC on June 21 overturned the earlier decision of the UP Diliman Student Disciplinary Council (SDC) to dismiss the charges of stealing, fraud, and disobedience filed by Philippine Collegian outgoing editor-in-chief Jayson Edward San Juan against the editors of Rebel Kule. The charges were based on allegations of misconduct in relation to the use of the Facebook and Twitter accounts that San Juan claimed were among the Collegian’s digital assets.

The EC – composed of the university’s deans and directors, the chancellor, vice chancellor, the university registrar, and other officials – released a two-page decision suspending the members of the Rebel Kule editorial board for one semester and five weeks, without even explaining why it has overturned the SDC’s earlier ruling, which said that San Juan’s accusations had “no sufficient basis.”

Among those to be suspended is incoming Philippine Collegian EIC Beatrice Puente, making her assumption of the position problematic. Also suspended are three graduating editors who were excluded from the graduation list this semester.

Rebel Kule has pointedly emphasized how due process was grossly set aside – both by the EC and the SDC – by not informing the respondents that San Juan appealed the SDC’s decision. Neither was the respondents given a copy of the appeal. Worse, the highest academic body in UP’s flagship campus made its decision with neither enough justification nor reason.

Not only is this move a dangerous precedent for campus publications throughout the country, it also undermines the University of the Philippines’ reputation as a bastion of free speech and expression by  imposing unwarranted penalties on students who dared continue the Philippine Collegian’s progressive tradition.

We have witnessed how, in times of turmoil, Rebel Kule persisted in reporting relevant issues that students and the UP community needed to know.

Is this how UP works now: haphazardly releasing decisions without the benefit of either logic or reason? Has the malady of oppression and repression besieging the nation now also adversely affected what was once a bastion of dissent?

The entire nation is besieged by the killing of journalists, the warrantless arrests against regime critics, and the harassments — and it seems that the country’s premier university has become just one more government institution similarly engaged in repression.

Just as we must hold accountable the UP Diliman administration and call for it to correct what we deem as a grave mistake, we must all unite in combating the darkness enveloping the nation. We cannot allow our civil liberties to flatline, and with it the country’s hopes for a true democracy. #

UPD Chancellor Tan statement on leaked group chat of Upsilon Sigma Phi

November 13, 2018

Full statement of University of the Philippines, Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan on fraternity-related violence, on the leaked messages from the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity. (Video by Jo Maline D. Mamangun)

Kumusta na si Lordei Hina?

Kumusta na si Lordei Hina?

Pitong taon na ang nakakalipas, hindi pa rin natatamasa ni Lordei Hina at ng kanyang pamilya ang katarungan mula sa malagim na krimeng naranasan niya sa loob ng kampus ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas.

Si Lordei Hina ay isang estudyante ng Unbersidad ng Pilipinas, isang graduating student sa ilalim ng kursong BS Community Development. Naging Secretary-General si Lordei ng Center for Nationalist Studies (CNS) at aktibong miyembro ng Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND-UP).

Pebrero 1, 2012 habang naghihintay si Lordei sa loob ng opisina ng University Student Council sa Vinzons Hall para sa isang miting ay bigla siyang nilooban ng dalawang lalaking nagpanggap na mga tattoo artist na lalahok sa gaganapin na UP Fair.

Kuwento ng kanyang mga kaibigan, lumaban si Lordei upang iligtas ang sarili. Sa kasamaang palad, nasaksak siya ng ilang beses ng ice pick sa ulo. Ninakaw ng mga salarin ang ilang mga laptop at cellphone na nasa opisina at tumabko. Natagpuang duguan si Lordei ng kanyang kaibigan at agad siyang dinala sa ospital.

Nahuli ang isa sa dalawang suspek at sinampahan ng kasong frustrated homicide. Kalaunan ay nagpiyansa rin at pansamantalang nakalaya. Ang isa naman ay nakapagtago. Pitong taon na ang nakakalipas, hindi parin natatapos ang paglilitis sa Regional Trial Court, Branch 91, Quezon City.

Malaki na ang pinagbago ng kalusugan ni Lordei. Noong una ay hindi niya naigagalaw ang kanyang kanang kamay, nahihirapang tumayo, pakainin ang sarili at hirap makaalala. Kuwento ng kanyang inang si Connie Hina, sa kasalukuyan, kaya na umano ni Lordei na kumain magisa. Minsan ay naglalakad-lakad pa nga raw sa labas ng bahay kasama ang kanyang kapatid. Malaki na rin ang pinagbago ng kanyang memorya.

Kahanga-hanga ang tapang na ipinakita Nanay Connie habang hinaharap ang masalimuot at masakit na pangyayari. “Huwag mawalan ng pag-asa…Bumangon agad at hindi iyong tuluyang malugmok…” Ito ang matapang na salita ng isang ina na handang ipagtanggol ang kanyang anak. Bagamat positibo ang pananaw ni Nanay Connie sa lagay ni Lordei, mararamdaman sa kanyang boses ang galit sa mga kriminal na nagdulot ng pagpapahirap sa kanyang anak at pamilya at lalo’t higit sa mabagal na sistema ng hustisya.

Nitong Setyembre 7, 2018 ay nakansela ang pagdinig ng kaso ni Lordei dahil hindi dumalo ang abugado ng mga akusado mula sa Public Attorney’s Office. Maghihintay muli ang pamliya hanggang sa Nobyembre 7, 2018 para sa pagpapatuloy ng pagdinig.

Umaasa sina Nanay Connie na sa taong ito ay magkakaroon na ng linaw ang kaso ni Lordei sa Korte at makamit na ang hustisyang matagal ng inaasam. (Video ni Maricon Montajes/Kodao)